The Oxford Learner's Dictionary defines the scooter as a light motorcycle, usually with small wheels and a curved metal cover at the front to protect the rider's legs. It's almost accurate, yet over-simplified.
Post World War II would see scooters become a means of personal transportation due to their low cost, economy, and ease of operation. Scooters wouldn't become popular until the 50s with Piaggio and Vespa dominating the market with their classic models. The United Kingdom, Germany, Eastern Bloc countries, and India would follow suit, but it would be Japan, China, and Taiwan that would eventually dominate the world market in the mass production of scooters.
In recent times scooters have become more robust, refined, and stylish, and have similar technology to sportbikes. They emit less emissions and are easy to maintain, making them the practical choice of transportation.
10 Suzuki Burgman 125EX
The Suzuki Burgman 125EX was unveiled at Intermot in October 2022. It’s compact and powered by a 124cc, 8.48hp, single-cylinder, air-cooled, fuel-injected engine. It features Suzuki's Eco Performance Alpha(SEP-α) Euro 5 compliant engine, Suzuki Engine Auto Start-Stop(EASS), and Silent Starter System.
Other enhancements include Suzuki’s Combined Braking System that engages both front and rear brakes simultaneously, an easy-to-read LCD screen with Suzuki’s ECO Drive indicator, roomy floorboards, ample under-seat storage, and a USB outlet. The EX125 is a great little scooter that doesn’t sacrifice riding experience, but at 8.48hp, it’s not exactly the most powerful in its class. Suzuki did mention that the Burgman 125EX was part of an ongoing development effort to optimize fuel economy. So, if you’re not concerned about power and just want to get from A to B, the 125EX is your ride.
9 Honda PCX 160
First introduced in 2009 as the Honda PCX125, the PCX has seen several facelifts over the years. Due to the engine gaining an additional 7cc from 149cc, the 150 nomenclature was dropped. The PCX160's sleek front fairing seamlessly merges into the rear bodywork, while enclosed within, is a four-stroke, 156.9cc, liquid-cooled, 80° degree single-cylinder, fuel-injected engine with automatic transmission and eSP+ technology (enhanced Smart Power) that essentially uses a new four-valve design.
It features modern LED lighting, digital instrumentation, and ABS. There’s plenty of legroom, a comfortable stepped seat, 7.9 gallons under the seat that easily accommodates a helmet and a bag of groceries, and a 12V USB charging port. Hondas have always been dependable and the PCX is no different. Honda says the PCX160 is supposed to make your day easier, just like using your cellphone. It takes away transportation headaches while everyone else is looking for parking spaces.
8 Kawasaki J300
Kawasaki has diversified interests in manufacturing ships, rolling stock, aircraft, robotics, and motorcycles. They also know a thing or two about making scooters. But doesn’t the Kawasaki J300 remind you of a Kymco? For those who don’t know this, the J300’s chassis and drive train are supplied by Kymco, but that’s where the similarities end - development, styling, and final product engineering are all efforts of Kawasaki Europe’s R&D department.
The 299c, 4-stroker J300 has Kawasaki’s distinctive Ninja design, making it stand out, but it also does come with nice touches - flush mounted turn signals, high-quality instrumentation, a sculpted handlebar, a hydraulically-operated seat, large storage, and a handy 12V socket. And yes, it does look the part with those petal-shaped brake rotors!
7 Yamaha XMAX 300
Yamaha has been manufacturing the XMAX series of scooters since 2006 and has had strong commercial success all over the world with 125cc, 250cc, 300cc, and 400cc displacements. The XMAX 300’s 4-Stroke, 292cc, liquid-cooled, 4-valve single-cylinder engine (SOHC) puts out 27.6hp, is Euro 5 compliant, and uses Yamaha’s Blue Core Technology.
Its futuristic angular front fairing houses the signature X-LED lights, there's plenty of storage under a nice seat, traction control, and a smart key with a built-in vehicle finder. Oh, and did we mention a nice 4.3” TFT screen with Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, as well as an adjustable windshield. All-in-all, the Yamaha XMAX300 looks bloody good with its sleek design, it’s not cheap, but with all those goodies, you pay the price for a scooter that deserves its place in the Bat Cave.
6 Piaggio MP3 500/530 HPE
The Piaggio MP3 530 HPE is known for its unique innovative design, and parallelogram tilting front-end developed by Piaggio and Marabese Design. It is powered by a 530cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder (SOHC) using Piaggio’s High Performance Engine Technology. It has an output of 44.2hp at 7,250rpm and has more torque than the old 500 HPE unit while still complying with Euro 5 standards.
The Piaggio MP3 530 HPE gets a host of features that include rider-selectable engine maps (Comfort, Eco, and Sport), cruise control, a keyless system that comes as standard, and display feed on a new 7" TFT screen via a rear camera when in reverse mode. This three-wheeler is heavy at 573lbs, but with its comfortable ergonomics, it will instill great confidence even in novice riders, whether it is city commuting or touring.
5 Honda ADV 150
So what’s an ADV? In the real sense of it, an adventure vehicle would be associated with long journeys through harsh conditions and rough terrain. Honda says that you don’t need to ride across the Sahara to have an adventure! Enter the Honda ADV150! It definitely is a cross between a real adventure motorcycle and a scooter.
The Honda ADV's 149cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled single features an automatic transmission, Showa Telescopic suspension up front, a pair of Showa remote piggyback reservoir-based shocks in the rear, and an anti-lock brake system. It is rounded off with an innovative two-position windshield, a 7.4 gallons of storage under a flip-open seat, a small compartment up front, and Honda's SMART Key. It looks gorgeous and has a sort of rugged appeal to it that says it's going to have an adventure.
4 Yamaha TMAX Tech Max 500
The Yamaha TMAX Tech Max 500 is absolutely bonkers! With its 562cc, liquid-cooled, Euro 5, parallel-twin engine putting out 46.9hp at 7500rpm, the YamahaTMAX uses a 360-degree crank that has a horizontally opposed reciprocating piston balancer that negates out any vibration, ensuring a smooth ride.
On the tech side, there’s Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T), a fly-by-wire accelerator position sensor grip, an electrically adjustable screen, cruise control, and smart key operation. Traction control and D-Mode, a performance mode selector. It also features a new LED-based projector headlamp, 7" full-color TFT screen with Garmin navigation, forged handle-bars and wheels, an improved longer seat, and a price tag to match all those features.
3 Suzuki Burgman 400
The Suzuki Burgman was probably one of the first Maxi scooters originally introduced way back in 1998. The Burgman 400’s 4-Stroke, 399cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, single-cylinder, 29hp engine has a set of revised camshaft profiles and a new dual-spark ignition system to comply with emissions. It borrows traction control found on the Suzuki V-Strom 650 / GSX-S750, has ABS, and Suzuki's Easy Start System.
The front fairing and tail get complete LED treatment while the cockpit’s digital instrumentation displays range and fuel consumption in real-time. There’s spacious storage under a comfortable stepped two-up seat, as well as in two front compartments that house a DC power outlet. Given Suzuki’s head start and focus with this maxi-scooter, it’s easy to see why they have such a following. They’re dependable, comfortable, and performance-oriented for riders that want to tour long distances or do a short daily commute.
2 Honda Forza 300/350
The first Honda Forza model introduced in 2000 was described as delivering a lively ride, having plenty of storage space, and featured an innovative braking system. The Honda Forza 300 continues in that tradition having seen revisions, notably, Honda’s S MATIC electronically controlled CVT, Smart Key function, Fuel Injection, and Combined ABS brakes.
For 2023, the Honda Forza 350 replaces the Forza 300 with a 330cc engine that outputs 28.8hp, retains Honda’s proprietary eSP+ technology and introduces Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) - traction control. While retaining most of its features, the 350 has a redesigned LCD screen with integrated Bluetooth and an electric windshield.
1 Vespa GTS300 (HPE)
If you go back 70-odd years to post World War II, Piaggio was the go-to company for scooters with their Vespa. The Vespa GTS300's 278cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, Euro 5 compliant, High Performance Engine delivers excellent all-round performance and reduced emissions. It features a steel monocoque frame, retro body-work from old, the distinctive round classic headlamp, and redesigned front suspension while maintaining its classical single arm design.
It also has digi-analog instrumentation, ABS, traction control, a large under-seat storage compartment, a glove box, keyless ignition, and a bike finder function has been thrown in as a bonus. With its timeless styling combined with modern touches, technological upgrades, and impressive performance, the GTS300 is for those riders who understand the heritage and identify with the Vespa brand.